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Get a beach-ready butt with ankle weights.
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Your gluteus maximus -- glutes for short and also known as your butt -- is far more than a comfortable thing to sit on; it's also the largest and potentially most powerful muscle in your body. Not only are your glutes your primary hip extensor muscles and important for how you look from behind, they are also important for hip and lower-back health as well as sports performance. Keep your glutes in great shape by working them two or three times a week. Ankle weights can make your glute workouts more challenging and effective.
Side-Lying Hip Abduction
Side-lying hip abduction targets the muscles on the side of your hip -- the gluteus medius and minimus. These muscles are important for preventing your knees from dropping inward when you walk or run and can help contribute to knee health as well as the function and appearance of your butt. Wearing your ankle weights, lie on your side so your hips are square. Rest your head on your outstretched arm. Raise your upper leg to around 45 degrees and then lower it back down. Make sure your feet and knees face directly forward and not up to the ceiling. Perform 12 to 20 repetitions and then roll over and repeat.
Glute kickbacks, also called donkey kicks, frequently feature in aerobics and lower-body conditioning classes. Wearing your ankle weights, kneel on all fours so your hips are over your knees and your shoulders are over your hands. Keeping your knee bent, push the sole of one foot up toward the ceiling. Extend your hip slightly so your thigh is just above parallel to the floor. Lower your leg and repeat. Perform 12 to 20 repetitions and then change sides. Do not overextend your hip or hyperextend your lower back as this will not only make the exercise less effective, but will also increase your risk of injury.
Single-Leg Stiff-Leg Deadlift
Single leg deadlifts are a traditional bodybuilding hamstring and glute exercise. When performed without ankle weights, this exercise focuses on the glute on the leg on which you are standing. Adding ankle weights means that both sides get a workout at the same time. Stand with your feet together and your hands by your sides. Shift your weight over onto one foot. Lean forward from your hips and simultaneously extend your opposite leg behind. Lean over until your extended leg and upper body are roughly parallel to the floor. Stand back up and repeat. Perform 12 to 20 repetitions and then change legs. For a more demanding workout, hold a weight in one hand. If you find balancing difficult, place your free hand on a nearby wall.
The hip extension is a simple but effective glute exercise performed in the standing position. While you can perform this exercise without weights, adding ankle weights will increase the overload on your muscles and make the exercise more demanding and effective. Stand with your feet together and lean forward slightly from your hips. Place your hands on a desk or counter for balance. Keeping your knee straight, extend one leg behind you. Really clench your butt. Lower your foot to the ground and repeat. This exercise can also be performed using an alternating leg action or, once you have mastered the technique, while walking forward.